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Wärtsilä Tests Internal Combustion of Ammonia

Last week Wärtsilä, the Finnish engine and energy equipment manufacturer, unveiled the latest stage in its engagement with ammonia as an energy vector. In a press release headlined “Wärtsilä advances future fuel capabilities with first ammonia tests,” the company described a test program aimed at exploring ammonia’s properties as an internal combustion fuel. Kaj Portin, General Manager of Fuel & Operational Flexibility in Wärtsilä’s Marine division, commented that “the first tests have yielded promising results.”

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South Australia Planning Hydrogen Export Strategy

The state of South Australia earlier this month issued a tender for professional services under the title “Hydrogen Export Study, Modelling Tool and Prospectus.” The tender is a further step in the state’s campaign to become a major exporter of renewable energy in the form of green and/or blue hydrogen. The results of the study are expected to “inform key considerations such as locations for hydrogen production and export, volume of supply potential, the interdependencies of hydrogen supply chain infrastructure, and the landed cost of clean hydrogen exported from South Australia.”

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Literature Review: Ammonia as a Fuel for Compression Ignition Engines

The diesel engine, also known as the compression ignition (CI) engine, has been a workhorse of the modern energy economy for more than a hundred years. Its role in the coming sustainable energy economy will be determined by its ability to co-evolve with climate-friendly fuels. Two researchers from the National Institute of Advanced Industrial Science and Technology in Japan have now examined the fit between ammonia and the CI engine. Pavlos Dimitriou and Rahat Javaid arrive at a two-part conclusion in their paper, “A review of ammonia as a compression ignition engine fuel,” published in January in the International Journal of Hydrogen Energy. Part one is good news: “Ammonia as a compression ignition fuel can be currently seen as a feasible solution.” Part two is a dose of qualifying reality: to manage emissions of N2O, NOx, and unburnt NH3, “aftertreatment systems are mandatory for the adaptation of this technology,” which means that ammonia-fueled CI engines are likely to be feasible “only for marine, power generation and possibly heavy-duty applications where no significant space constraints exist.”

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Lloyd’s Register: how ammonia can be the ideal renewable marine fuel

We've recently reported a series of ammonia-fueled vessel development and demonstration projects led by industry consortia. One of these, in which Lloyd's Register is joined by Samsung Heavy Industries, MISC, and MAN Energy Solutions, is developing "an ammonia-fuelled tanker." In an interview with Ship Technology magazine this month, Lloyd's Register provided some new details about this project and added context for their ammonia-fueled vessel development plans.

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Environmental and Economic Assessment of Ammonia as a Fuel for Ships

This month, the Korean Register published a comparative assessment of the environmental and economic merits of using ammonia as a maritime fuel. The work, written in collaboration with researchers at Pusan National University, is published in the open-access Journal of Marine Science and Engineering. It concludes that "ammonia can be a carbon-free fuel for ships," and presents "a meaningful approach toward solving GHG problems in the maritime industry."

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Ammonia as a unicorn technology and the UK’s opportunity for COP26

The Guardian newspaper in the UK this week published a comment piece on ammonia's potential as a "unicorn technology," which the authors define as a technology that can "deliver a reduction of at least a billion tonnes of CO2 a year." The article focused on the UK's opportunity, as host of the upcoming COP26 meeting in Glasgow this November, to take a leadership position in solving climate change. The authors, all based at the University of Oxford, outline a strategy by which the UK government could leverage existing British business and academic expertise to build global coalitions, to develop, demonstrate, and roll out "the 'hydrammonia' economy."

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H2U moves forward with 3 GW green ammonia export plant

According to a statement released by the Queensland government last week, the clean infrastructure development firm Hydrogen Utility (H2U) has purchased a 171-hectare site in Gladstone, Queensland, where it intends to build a green ammonia export plant with initial operations beginning in 2025. This "H2-Hub" will be built in stages, scaling up over time to reach up to 3 GW electrolyzer capacity for green hydrogen production, and up to 5,000 tons per day of green ammonia. This is at least twice the size of a conventional natural gas-based world-scale ammonia plant.

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Japan Advances SOFCs for the Built Environment

A steady stream of Japanese news reports over the last several months attest to the country’s progress in deploying fuel cells in the built environment. Dubbed “Ene-Farms,” the appliances function as micro-scale combined heat and power units, providing electricity as well as heat for domestic applications. Most of the Ene-Farms deployed so far feature proton-exchange membrane (PEM) technology (which requires high-purity hydrogen). However, two recent developments show that solid oxide fuel cell (SOFC) technology (well suited for ammonia) could play a role, maybe even a large role, in Japan's Hydrogen Society.

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ARPA-E Issues RFI for Next-Gen Ammonia System Integration

This week the United States Department of Energy’s Advanced Research Projects Agency – Energy (ARPA-E) issued a Request for Information under the title “Next Generation Ammonia System Integration Project.” This is a strong signal that ARPA-E intends to see the ammonia energy technologies in its portfolio through to commercial fruition.

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Royal Society publishes Green Ammonia policy briefing

This week, the UK's Royal Society published an influential "Green Ammonia" policy briefing on ammonia as a "zero-carbon fertiliser, fuel and energy store." Rather than provide a comprehensive summary here — the Royal Society policy briefing is freely available to download — I want to focus only on four specific figures. These four illustrations repackage previously available data in valuable new ways, communicating key insights around the barriers to and opportunities for ammonia energy.